US skaters favored for 1000; Wust wants 2nd gold
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Look at the season, and the United States should have a lock on the women’s speedskating 1,000 meters. The Olympics, though, are different. And the Dutch are on an orange roll so far.
Here are five things to watch for in the women’s 1,000 meters at the Adler Arena:
AMERICAN DOUBLE: Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe are close friends and they want to be just as close on Thursday’s medal stand. Say, one in the middle and the other at her side in the silver medal position. It is not farfetched. Bowe has produced the best race of the season so far, setting the world record over the distance at high altitude in Salt Lake City in November. Richardson has been the most regular skater, winning three of four World Cup races this season. The only one she lost was in Bowe’s world record race when both Americans beat Christine Nesbitt’s old mark.
AMERICAN HISTORY: Since the 1992 Albertville Games, U.S. skaters have won half the gold medals on offer, with Bonnie Blair getting a double and Chris Witty taking the title before a home crowd at the 2002 Salt Lake City games. Since though, the Americans have failed to even medal in the last two games. Now, they need it more than ever after being shut out in five events so far.
DUTCH ROLL: So far the Dutch have been unstoppable at the Adler Arena, winning 10 of 15 medals after five days of competition. Ireen Wust already won a gold in the 3,000 and is favored to add one in the 1,500 too. The 1,000 though, might be too much of a sprint for her. Still, with a gold already under her belt, she has the momentum. And if she wins gold, she will become the first Dutch skater with 4 Olympic titles, quite a distinction in the skating-mad nation. Wust will go in a head-to-head with Bowe in the penultimate pairing of the day.
RUSSIAN OVAL: Olga Fatkulina won the host nation a silver in the 500 meters, and stands third in the World Cup standings behind the two Americans. She said the crowd at the 8,000-capacity arena drove her on during the sprint and it will be no different on Thursday.
LEE DOUBLE? : Lee Sang-hwa was outstanding as she defended her title in the 500 early this week, but getting close will be tougher in the 1,000. No one can match her explosiveness but stamina is part of the race on Thursday, and she will have to keep those legs moving during the last of 2 ½ laps. She was 23rd in the Vancouver games but has improved since and stands fifth in the World Cup standings, having competed in only three of the four races.
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